Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home
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Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  88 reviews
How far would you travel for love? In her sparkling memoir, journalist Alison Singh Gee learns that love, riches, and a place to call home can be found in the most unexpected places.

Alison Singh Gee was a glamorous magazine writer with a serious Jimmy Choo habit, a weakness for five-star Balinese resorts, and a reputation for dating highborn British men. Then she met Ajay...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by St. Martin's Press
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Lee Wilson
This is a book for armchair travelers, amateur sociologists, book clubs, and readers who want to vicariously live with a royal family in India whose formerly grand lifestyle is slipping away.

Journalist Alison Gee is living her definition of success (a glamorous career, a rich boyfriend, a designer wardrobe, and five-star vacations), but something is missing. Enter Ajay, an Indian journalist for whom Alison gives up her lavish lifestyle. Only after Alison and Ajay are engaged, does Alison learn t...more
Richard Kramer
It took me a while to realize why I was loving this book so much, other than the fact that it is a) delightful, b) hilarious, and c) filled with fascinating insight into what used to be described as Other Lands. I loved this because it reminded me of books I read as a young teenager, not because it is pitched to a young audience (or YA; ghastly marketing term) but because it speaks of an amused, sardonic, adult point of view that seems as if it could only exist between the covers of a book. Had...more
Melina Watts
Still in a dazzle from book signing at Vroman's last week with Alison Singh Gee.

The pieces she pulled to read from the book had me so entranced that I HAD to read her book "Where the Peacocks Sing" while waiting in line for Mexican food on the way back home. The book is literally enchanting ... Hong Kong, India, Los Angeles, fascinating aka impossible relatives, crazy money, poverty, shimmery prose, true love, mangoes and peacocks...this book has it all.

The heroine ... who happens to be the aut...more
Rachelle
It's tempting to read this book as quickly as possible to find out what happens to the highly engaging characters. But then you may miss not only the rich ambiance of Hong Kong, India and LA's Chinatown, you may miss the layers of meaning within this tale and the depth of the characters' transformations. Beyond the entrancing love story is another journey, one where the author explores her family's past and her heritage, how notions of worldly success can blind us and what can happen if we chall...more
Cate Loves Books
Unusual, exotic and entertaining memoir with a deep soul. Beautiful writing too! I loved this this book the same way I loved Eat, Pray, Love, but probably even more. This book to me had more depth in that you also witnessed the development of a deep love and a relationship to two countries that Allison had spent a lot of time in. Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, hers wasn't superficial knowledge gleaned from a book or from being just a tourist. I had so many questions about Indian culture and this book...more
Erica Harrold
I wanted to like this book. It could have been a 'Eat. Pray. Love." had she not been a writer for People.

Vapid, trite and shallow - I'm sure Miss Gee is a lovely human, it just didn't come across in her writing. Her incessant reminiscing about the glamour of Hong Kong was dull. I kept hoping to see a maturation of her character - didn't happen. When her fiance shares the story about how he became a vegetarian (actually quite touching) she doesn't appear to grasp the beauty or the depth of the e...more
Catherine
Gee, an American journalist working in Hong Kong, meets a colleague, Ajay, who was based in India, at a company meeting. As their relationship blossoms, Ajay moves to Hong Kong so the couple can be together. Ajay soon reveals to Alison that his royal family home is a “palace” in a rural Indian village called Mokimpur.

There’s a clash of cultures as Gee struggles for acceptance from Ajay’s family and slowly learns to appreciate the beauty of the dilapidated family home and its surroundings.

Gee is...more
Ajay Singh
Soul searching takes many forms but when it's combined with grit, romance and humor in a memoir as candid and deep as this, you realize that literature and life do not have opposite goals after all. To turn Truman Capote's apt conception of human existence on its head, Alison Singh Gee's journey reads like a breathtaking play with a superb third act.
Toni
A younger woman spends hours writing a book ,an older woman spends hours reading a book. Those hours are lost and can never be reclaimed. Enough said.
Susan
From the very first lines of Where the Peacocks Sing I was hooked. Alison Singh Gee led me through her journey of self-discovery, and the search for a deeper existence, with powerful images and unforgettable characters. In her memoir, she recounts her high octane life as an editor of Asiaweek in Hong Kong with humor, especially when she describes her elitist expat British friends. A world that was very foreign to me until I read this book. The best part though, is when she meets Ajay, a handsome...more
Cait
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica
Dreamy and memorable. A journey that takes you through a vivid landscape of the India countryside, and that also leads you into a young intelligent woman's journey through time, emotions, and memory. Although my life is very different from Alison Singh Gee's, her story brought my solo travels through India and Hong Kong back to me with a terrific force, the smells, and wonderful food tastes, and conversations both inane and life changing. That palace! That mother in law! A poignant memoir that I...more
Rachel
I finished the book in less than 24 hours, so obviously I enjoyed the book. I really would like to give it more than 4 stars but two points keep me from doing so. The first is for all the defined terms in the book. I figure in this multi-cultural interconnected world that either a) you should know what a non-english word means or b) if you don't know what it means you should educate yourself and look it up on the internet. I found these definitions jarring to the flow of the narrative.

The secon...more
Madge
This was a wonderful book about two families and the sharing of their lives. When Alison met Ajay they had very different ideas about life and I wasn't sure this was going to work as a relationship (even knowing she had written the book in current time and was married and had a child) but as you read about their finding their ways in different cultures, I began to see how their differences would come to represent the best parts of each of them as they forged a relationship and marriage. This boo...more
BJ Gallagher
A wise editor once told me, "That which is the most personal is also the most universal." His words echoed in my mind when I finished reading "Where the Peacocks Sing." While I am neither Indian nor Chinese, I could identify with Alison's rich, romantic memoir about marrying the son of a difficult, possessive mother-in-law from another culture. I'm WASP; my difficult, critical mother-in-law was Hispanic – but the dynamic I experienced was very similar to Alison's. The colorful cast of characters...more
Denise Florent
This is the first book I am reviewing. One of the most charming books I have read in a while. I fell in love with the fairytale love story set in India and Hong Kong, and I learned so much about two big beautiful lovely cultures. The author seems like a fun smart woman and I enjoyed being taken (on the page any way) through these countries and through her life. The book is also laugh out loud funny which surprised me. So many things in one book. I also love how she examines the idea of what soci...more
Catherine Nelson
May 10, 2013 Catherine Nelson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of travel, asia, india and being young and searching
Recommended to Catherine by: people magazine
i saw this book reviewed in people magazine and since i have traveled to india three times, knew i had to read it. this book took me back to asia with all its descriptive writing. i loved the scenes in high society hong kong as much as the ones at the indian palace. the book also took me back to a decade in my life when i was truly searching for my place in the world. i was also surprised to learn so much more about life in rural india and among the newly poor indian royals. i didn't expect the...more
Chloe
THIS BOOK CHANGED SOMETHING IN ME. I think we all forget that traveling often has very little to do with our preconceived notions of a place. We decide to go for one reason, and usually, if we stay open, we return with something unexpected. We return a more complex, intelligent and alive version of ourselves. This is how I felt reading Alison Singh Gee's book. I found myself giving in to her writing, taking in India's countryside, her new family there, the haveli, the bright pops of color in the...more
Katie
Though the exotic globe-hopping to which this fairy tale of a memoir treats readers is fabulously transporting, the story itself remains remarkably relatable throughout. Told with endless care, craft and humor, it’s candid and soulful, authored by a writer possessed with the rare gift of relating the gritty, deepest lows just as deftly as she reveals her enthralling highs and delightfully comical anecdotes. A riveting and relentlessly entertaining tale, the book also dispenses plenty of cocktail...more
Vicki Seamons
I am sorry I missed Ms. Gee at Vromans. I would have liked to see if she is as bubbly as she writes. It was a quick enjoyable read. It gave me insight into a country and people I know so little about and helped me understand the caste system and how it still survives in this day and time. It was interesting to see how Ajay's family came to accept Ms. Gee and how she came to understand them. It was distracting that she used Indian words and did not explain most of them. So you either kept with th...more
Roopa
This was particularly well timed for my India trip and highly recommend it as travel/vacation reading. Awesome for when your facing tepid water bucket showers and toting around Bisleri. Ms. Gee does a beautiful job celebrating India, which I really appreciated. She also brings nice color to Hong Kong and what it's like to be an journalist these days. On occasion, I found the dialogue to be irksome, but it's clearly a reflection of what an honest and self-reflective story the author told.

A great...more
Mirte Meeus
I tried to draw out the read as long as possible but ended up reading the story in three sittings, you just can't put the book away. The cultural insights are unbelievably interesting, in the end you have not only read a fascinating love story but you have also learnt a lot about exotic countries, cultures and relationships. And then there is the third act... Such emotionally charged scenes, I was often brought to tears. The struggles, the journey and the love story come together at an intersect...more
Ernie Wang
Over her improbable journey that traverses faraway lands and the ends of the socioeconomic stratum, Alison is forced to come to terms with a past that at once defines and haunts her. In the process, old world clashes with new, walls are erected over proud hearts and familial territory - then torn down with kindness and grit - and a home is unearthed - an unexpected home, a bewildering one at times, but a home that Alison had spent a desperate lifetime searching for. An honest, beautiful, heartac...more
Loular
This glorious read by Alison Singh Gee: "Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince, and the Search for Home," is without a doubt, the perfect summer read. An exotic, arm-chair journey and cross-cultural love story at it's finest:

Her true life story, filled with rich description of foreign lands is all deftly wrapped around her very modern, contemporary love story.
She describes the often rocky road of seeking familial acceptance within a new partner's family tribe. However, Gee's fascinating pe...more
Robin
Nov 04, 2013 Robin added it
I meant to just read the first few pages to see if I wanted to keep it on a "must-read" list and I am completely hooked. At first glance this would be a good companion to the movie "The Best Marigold Exotic Hotel" and the novel it was based on, "These Foolish Things" by Deborah Moggach. My only complaint so far is that I wish there were more photographs of the actual palace.

Finished this and enjoyed this fun and romantic memoir.
Londongirl
I loved the humanity and scope of this book. The characters were so rich and real and funny. Each one had her/his own loopy tics and motivation, Including Alison, the author, who seems like a charming but complex person. It was lovely to move through the mad streets of Hong Kong and then into the private rooms of an Indian palace. What a delirious and delicious true-life adventure! Will read this book again for certain.
Pat

I don't usually enjoy memoirs but I was able to speak with Alison Singh Gee over the telephone and she has such a delightful and engaging personality that I wanted to read her memoir, Where The Peacocks Sing and found the book as entertaining, knowledgeable, and fascinating as she. The story of a California woman transplanted to Hong Kong working with "ex-pats" so full of themselves they can't stop to enjoy the world around them who stumbles onto her soul mate, an Indian Prince "tied" to his gra...more
Patricia
I especially liked that it wasn't sugar-coated. There were some adjustment difficulties and these were brought out. Otherwise it would have been your run-of-the-mill happy happy fairy tale. Extremely enjoyable and I'm waiting for the next one!
Christi Cassel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
This is an interesting account of the authors life and how it changes when she meets a man from India. Alison always wanted to go places and when she finishes college she gets a high power job in Hong Kong. After years of living in a high rise, buying expensive designer clothes and always going out to fancy restaurants and clubs, she meets a guy from India, Ajay, who is thoughtful and happy with a simpler life. They move in together and start being more frugal. Both are journalists. While visiti...more
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